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  • Writer's pictureTony Taurone

Motherland Okra

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

Overview:

Motherland Okra is a unique and flavorful variety of okra that is prized for its tender texture and rich taste. With short, very broad Pods it definitely stands out. Surprisingly, even with the size of these pods they still don't get super woody until very large.

Background:

Motherland Okra, also known as Bamia, is believed to have originated in Africa, where it has been cultivated for centuries. Like all okra, it is a member of the mallow family, and is related to other vegetables like hibiscus and cotton. This is one reason for its beautiful blooms!


Characteristics:

One of the most notable things about the variety is its tender, short, broad pods. While other varieties typically have longer narrow pods, Motherland Okra pods are large!


Unlike some other varieties of okra, which can be tough or stringy, Motherland Okra is known for its soft and velvety texture. This makes it a popular choice for dishes like gumbo and other stews, where it can add a thickening agent while also contributing to the overall flavor and texture of the dish.

Another characteristic is its rich taste. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that is often described as similar to eggplant or asparagus. Like all Okra, it is also high in dietary fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, making it a healthy addition to meals.

I also really like the extremely broad, lobed leaves it produces instead of the narrow leaf types that come with other varieties. The leaves also tend to be much smoother than other varieties, not being quite as prickly.


Growing Motherland Okra:

Motherland Okra is relatively easy to grow in a home garden, although it does require a warm and sunny climate (read southern heat!) which I have in surplus here in North Texas. You can start it indoors to transplant or from seed directly in the garden, and should be grown in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Though that is their preference, mine were transplanted directly into the hard Texas clay and performed quite well at over 7ft!

The plants described elsewhere can grow quite a bit taller but mine had no problem putting out abundnace. I have read that others provide them with support, but mine needed none and had stalks with a base the size of my wrist! Watering regularly helps prevent the pods from becoming tough or stringy.


Harvesting Motherland Okra

Motherland Okra typically reaches maturity in about 60-70 days, at which point the pods should be harvested when they are still small and tender.

If left on the plant for too long, they can become tough and fibrous, which can detract from their flavor and texture. The most challenging and rewarding part is that these do not ripen all at once and you will find that you can harvest morning and evening to try and keep up when in full swing!

To harvest Motherland Okra, simply cut the pods from the plant using a sharp knife or scissors (I prefer to use a good set of garden shears). You may want gloves, as with all okra, from seed to stem they have a tacky mucilage that will get sticky on your hands. The pods should be used immediately, or stored in the refrigerator for a few days, but they do quickly get tougher.


Using Motherland Okra in the Kitchen:

Motherland Okra is particularly well-suited to stews, soups, and other dishes where it can add a thickening agent and a rich, nutty flavor.

Motherland Okra can also be grilled, roasted, or sautéed, which can help to bring out its natural sweetness and enhance its flavor.

Given the size of "coins" you can cut from the pods it also works great for frying!

It can be served as a side dish, or used as an ingredient in other dishes like salads, sandwiches, and dips.


Conclusion:

Motherland Okra did great in NTexas for me and will remain on my top 5 Okra varieties for now. If you are an okra person, Motherland Okra is definitely worth trying.




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